The Vibhuti’s greatness- The story of Mandhiramaavadhu Neeru Thevaram

The Pandya King Nedumaran, (7th Century)  who was also called Koon Pandiyan, after his hunch back embraced Jainism. His wife the Chola Princess, Mangayarkarasi was an ardent Shiva Devotee. He along with the Pandya kingdom’s minister Kulachiraiyaar tried to convince the King to embrace Shaivism but were unable to do so. The queen invited the Boy saint Thirugnanasambandar as well as Thirunaavukarasar/ Appar from the Chola kingdom to Madurai, so that their devotional songs could perhaps convince the king about the greatness of Lord Shiva.

The Queen Mangayarkarasi sent Minister Kulachiraiyar to the outskirts of Madurai to welcome the saints. Sambandar asked the minister, ‘Where is Thiruaalavaai?’. The minister pointed to the Gopuram and said “Adhuve Thiruaalavaai” It was then the song “Mangayarkarasi, Valavar kon paavai” in praise of the Queen Mangayarkarasi and Minister Kulachiraiyaar was sung by Sambandhar.

The Jains greatly angered by the Saints’ visit set the Mandapam, where they were staying, on fire. Miraculously the saints were unhurt.  It was then that Thirugnanasambandar sang the song, Payyavae senRu pandiyarku Ahave’ (“பையவே சென்று பாண்டியர்க்கு ஆகவே‘) – ‘Let the fire catch the Pandyan’.

King Koon Pandiyan was afflicted by a fever with heat boils.

The Jains as well as Thirugnanasambandar were summoned to the king’s bedside to cure him of his illness. The Jains sat on one side and Sambandar and his devotees on the other. The Jains took out peacock feathers and gently touched the king’s body chanting  Jain Mantras. But the fever only rose.

Sambandar started applying the sacred ash or the Vibhuthi to the body of the king. It was then he sang “ Mandhira Maavadhu Neeru” which tells about the greatness of the sacred ash, also known as the Thiruneetru Padhigam. The words are very powerful and can cure diseases if chanted with true devotion.

 King Koon Pandiyan was not only cured of his fever but his hunch back too disappeared and was henceforth called “Nindra Seer Nedumaaran”

This incident made the King embrace Shaivism.

King Nedumaran Koon Pandiyan, his wife Mangayarkarasi as well as the minister Kulachiraiyaar are among the 63 Nayanmars. The lineup of the 63 Nayanmars is a common feature in most South Indian Shiva temples.

The Thiruaaalvaai temple or the Madurai temple, which was empty, during the King’s stint with Jainism following his orders that none should visit this temple, soon became a powerful centre, where pilgrims flocked from far and wide.

Applying  the holy ash or the  Vibhuti reminds one of the impermanence of the human existence.

It helps to let go of all negative thoughts and focus on positive divine energy.

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